By Charlie Jones
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Twenty years since Al-Qaeda terrorists took 2,977 innocent lives. When the country woke up on that bright Tuesday morning, there was no indication of the horror that would soon ensnare the nation. Workers at the World Trade Center showed up for their shifts. The staff at the Pentagon arrived to serve our country, and passengers at airports in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia prepared for their flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco, excited to see their loved ones.
The first of the ill-fated flights took off just before 8:00 am and the North Tower collapsed two and half hours later, the culmination of the terror. In a matter of hours, the lives of thousands of families were altered. Eight children were killed, the youngest being two-and-a-half years old. The oldest victim was 85. Thousands of families were broken apart, children who would never see their mom or dad again, parents who would never see their son or daughter again.
And yet, in this moment of darkness, the United States did what we do best. We came together as a country. First responders rushed to the scene, putting their own lives at risk to save others. Americans across the country put up the American flag and rushed to donate blood. And 181,510 Americans enlisted into active service and 72,908 joined the reserves in the year following the attack. When our way of life and values were threatened, Americans rose to the call to protect the United States.
This year is the second year where most incoming students were not alive for these attacks. I have no recollection of that tragic day, yet I will never unsee the photos and video from that day. Our parents promised to never forget the innocent lives lost in the attacks, and it is our generation’s duty to continue this remembrance.
On that tragic day in 2001, the MSU community came together for a candlelight vigil at The Rock. Since that year, it has been a tradition for the MSU community to hold a remembrance ceremony. As we have in years past, on September 10th at 4:00 pm, the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at MSU will be placing 2,977 flags around The Rock, one for each innocent life lost. Nearly 200 other YAF chapters across the country will also be placing flags on their campuses as part of the 9/11: Never Forget Project - the largest nationwide student activist project.
Remember September 11th. Remember the lives lost. And remember how the American people responded with bravery and solidarity.
Charlie Jones is an MSU senior studying international relations and political theory and constitutional democracy through James Madison College and is Chairman of the MSU Young Americans for Freedom.